Monday, April 20, 2015

Alumni Update: Mark Cohen Honored by Colorado State Bar Association

Our congratulations to LL.M. Alumnus Mark Cohen, who was recently honored by the Colorado State Bar Association for his six years of service on the Editorial Board of The Colorado Lawyer magazine from July 2009 through June 2015, including service as Board Chair from 2012-2013.

Since completing the program, Mark has returned to practice in Colorado where he focuses on agricultural law issues, mediation and arbitration, with a specialization in assisting businesses and other lawyers improve their documents by using plain English.

In addition to his service on the Colorado State Bar Association Editorial Board, Mark is a published author of both legal publications and mystery novels.

His recent legal publications include the Book Review-Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The Case for Plain Language in Business, Government, and Law, Joseph Kimble, The Colorado Lawyer, November 2012 and Book Review-Preparing Witnesses: A Practical Guide for Lawyers and Their Clients, (3rd Ed.) by Daniel I. Small, The Colorado Lawyer, December 2009.

His works of fiction include  Bluetick Revenge: A Pepper Keane Mystery, Mysterious Press (Div. of Time/Warner) and The Fractal Murders: A Pepper Keane Mystery, Mysterious Press (A Book Sense 76® Top Ten Mystery Selection (Fall 2002) and a finalist for the Colorado Book Award).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

LL.M. Alumnus Ben Thomas on the Daily Show??

Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas was featured on many news highlights and as a "Moment of Zen" on the Daily Show last week.  His cell phone went off while USDA Secretary Vilsack was testifying before the Senate Finance committee.  And, it turns out that his cell phone ring tone is the song "Let it Go" from the Disney animated film, Frozen.

What you may not have realized is that one of our alumni, Ben Thomas, was sitting directly behind Secretary Vilsack at the hearing.  While you can only see a bit of him on the brief Daily Show clip, we found a longer YouTube video that shows the moments before the cell phone goes off, and it shows Ben attentively listening to the Secretary's testimony. Clearly an alumni sighting is bigger news to us than Senator Roberts' ringtone! Watch the clip below -  and that's Ben on the right.

Ben serves at USDA as Chief of Staff for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alumni Update: Sara Albert featured in article

We are pleased to share that LL.M. Alum Sara Albert was recently featured in this Increasing Access to Healthy Food in Dallas County, Texas article published by Sara serves as the Assistant Director of Food Policy at Children at Risk. Sarah joined CHILDREN AT RISK in 2014 to focus on local and state food policy related to food insecurity, childhood obesity, and access to healthy affordable food for North Texas children and their families. Sara is an avid community gardener and a champion of sustainable agricultural practices, urban agriculture, small farmers, and real food. Congratulations Sara.

Special Guest: Director of Congressional Relations in the Public Policy Department, Kristi Boswell

Immigration Reform in Agriculture

On Tuesday, special guest Kristi Boswell will visit the LL.M. class to provide a special session on Immigration Reform in Agriculture. Her visit is a part of the ongoing Agricultural Labor Law Course taught by LL.M. Adjunct Professor Amy Lowenthal. Kristi will join the class via video conference. 

Kristi Boswell serves as the Director of Congressional Relations in the Public Policy Department handling labor issues.

Prior to joining America Farm Bureau Federation, Kristi practiced corporate defense litigation, including labor and employment, at Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP in Omaha, Nebraska. Before attending law school, Kristi worked as an aide to former Nebraska State Senator Pamela Redfield in the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Kristi grew up on a farm in southeastern Nebraska where her family raised corn and soybeans. Kristi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska in 2004 and received her Juris Doctor with Distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2009.

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Book Features Contributions from Seven LL.M. Alumni

Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation

Congratulations are in order for Lauren Bernadett, Nicole Civita, Lauren Handel, Andy Frame, Sara Albert, Michael T. Roberts, Executive Director for the Resinck Program for Food Law & Policy, and LL.M. Program Director Susan Schneider for their contributions to the recently released book, Urban Agriculture: Policy, Law, Strategy, and Implementation

The book, described below, is available on the ABA shop site

A current, practical resource on all aspects of agricultural activities within non-rural settings, ranging from neighborhood gardens to commercial farming operations, this book addresses many of the land use, environmental, and regulatory legal issues that confront local governments, property owners, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and neighborhood groups when addressing urban gardening or farming. Chapter authors also describe and analyze the experiences of specific urban areas, providing perspectives on their different approaches.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Join Us This Summer As We Examine the Emerging Food Justice Movement

This May, our popular Food Justice Law & Policy course will be offered for the first time during the summer semester, and will be open to an expanded audience including Law & Graduate Students and Interested Professional across the country. The course will be tailored to fit the background of enrolled students, and will be offered in both a distance and face to face format. Interested individuals should contact the LL.M. Program at Regular tuition rates apply.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Journal of Food Law & Policy Symposium: The Past, Present & Future of Food Law

On March 20th, the Journal of Food Law & Policy celebrated its 10th anniversary with a symposium featuring some of the most recognized names in food law and policy. Our guests were instrumental in establishing the Journal 10 years ago, and we were honored to celebrate this special occasion with them.

Our speakers included:

Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and Professor of Law at Drake Law School. Professor Hamilton also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Peter Barton Hutt, Senior Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP and Instructor of Food & Drug Law at Harvard Law School. Professor Hutt is one of the authors of the leading casebook, Food & Drug Law: Cases and Materials (4th ed., Foundation Press 2013).

Michael T. Roberts, Executive Director, Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA Law School and former Research Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas school of Law; and

Susan Schneider, William H. Enfield Professor of Law and Director, LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law.

The conference was presented in the LL.M. Study at the University of Arkansas School of Law and was streamed to a live audience participating via distance. A recording of excerpts from the Symposium will be posted on the Journal of Food Law Policy's website and announced when on this blog when it becomes available.

The Journal of Food Law & Policy is the only student-edited legal journal in the country devoted to the study of food law and its impact on society. It’s first issue was published in July 2005, leading the legal academy in this emerging area of law. The LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law was proud to co-sponsor this conference, showcasing our state-of-the-art distance technology. Our thanks to all of our speakers and to our participants for this wonderful event, and congratulations to the Journal.

Special Class with LL.M. Alum Brandon Willis, Head of USDA Risk Management Agency

Brandon Willis, Administrator of the Risk Management Agency (RMA) at the USDA made a special visit to the LL.M. Program on Friday, March 20th as a part of his visit to the University of Arkansas campus.

Brandon addressed the class during a special session to discuss risk management strategies, current issues affecting federal crop insurance, and his goals in leading RMA. He also offered the LL.M. class some helpful advice on searching for a job in D.C. and selecting a successful career path. Brandon credited his LL.M. studies as getting him started in his agricultural law career.

After Brandon completed his coursework in the LL.M. Program, he went directly to Washington, D.C. to serve as the Agriculture Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Max Baucus. He drafted floor statements on agricultural issues and worked closely on legislation, including the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, with a particular focus on the livestock disaster programs. He also drafted legislation that supported the use of existing conservation programs to help fight the declining population of bees and other pollinators.

Brandon then served as Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).  In that position, he oversaw all FSA programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division (PECD), Conservation and Environmental Programs Division (CEPD), and Price Support Division (PSD).

Just prior to accepting the position at RMA, Brandon served as Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Title I commodity programs, farm legislation matters and disaster assistance.

While in the LL.M. Program, Brandon served as a Graduate Assistant for the National Agricultural Law Center during the time that it was affiliated with the law school.  He earned his bachelor's degree in crop and soil science from Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and his law degree from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., and his LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.  Brandon grew up on a third generation sheep ranch in northern Utah and managed his family's raspberry farm, Bursting Berries.

Brandon's visit to Northwest Arkansas was at the invitation of the National Agricultural Law Center, part of the Division of Agriculture. He delivered a public address on campus and met with leaders from the Arkansas agriculture community.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LL.M. Alumnus Wes Ward Appointed Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture

We are proud to announce that LL.M. Alumnus Wesley Ward of Lake City, Arkansas has just become Arkansas' third Secretary of Agriculture.

Wes was recommended by Governor Asa Hutchinson on March 13 and on Friday, the Arkansas Agriculture Board voted to appoint him to the position.  He will be sworn into office soon. He will replace Butch Calhoun of Des Arc, who left the position in December. Arkansas's Agriculture Department was created in 2005 and has more than 530 employees. It includes the state Plant Board, the Forestry Commission, the Livestock and Poultry Commission, the Aquaculture Division and the land surveyor, as well as programs that benefit agriculture, such as dairy stabilization, farmers markets, and other promotion and marketing programs.

Wes serves as a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and spent four years on active duty. He then joined the Marine Corps Reserve and attended Arkansas State University, where he received his B.S. degree in agricultural finance, magna cum laude. He received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law and then served as Battalion Judge Advocate in the U.S., Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan and to Jordan. He returned to the University of Arkansas to earn his LL.M. degree in Agricultural & Food Law, taking a number of courses in the Masters in Agricultural Economics Program at the Bumpers College of Agriculture. While in the LL.M. Program Wes served as an adjunct professor at the law school.

Wes grew up in Northeastern Arkansas and worked for U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., in 2013 as a field coordinator doing agricultural outreach. He has already spent time talking with the agriculture department's current staff, university contacts and agriculture industry groups.

Wes is quoted in Arkansas Online - "I promise you [that] you won't find find anyone that's going to work any harder for the state and for all our agricultural interests throughout the state."  He noted that his long term goals included seeing the department do more to help create agriculture-related jobs and to work with veterans interested in becoming farmers. We have already talked to Wes about finding ways that the LL.M. Program can support and assist him in his new role.

Congratulations, Wes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Indigenous Food & Agricuture Initiative Hosts 2nd Annual Native Youth Leadership Summit

Last year, the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative hosted its inaugural Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit. We are pleased to report that the Initiative just announced that applications are now open for the 2nd year.

The Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative operates under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor of Law Janie Hipp. An alumna of the LL.M. Program, Janie also teaches a course in Indigenous Food & Agriculture for the Program, alongside Initiative Staff Attorney, Erin Shirl.

To learn more, check out the recent post describing the event on the IFAI blog.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Visiting Professor Neil Hamilton: Remarks on Des Moines Water Works Proposed Litigation

Another issue that connects agricultural law, environmental law and our food system.

As many have read in the news, the Des Moines Water Works recently started the requisite process to initiate a lawsuit against 3 Iowa counties over nitrate contamination of the city water source. See, e.g., Water Works Votes to Sue 3 Counties Over Nitrates.  The Water Works is currently spending $4,000 a day to treat the contaminated water. The water has been found to be 6 times higher than the federal limit for nitrate contamination.

This proposed case raises a variety of novel legal questions and brings the issue of nitrate contamination in Iowa, the vast majority of which comes from farming sources, to center stage.

Professor Neil Hamilton, one of our visiting professors in the LL.M. Program, was asked to speak to the Iowa Water Conference this week, and I am providing his remarks to our LL.M. students for discussion in their classes. This issue provides an example of the many ways that an integrated study of agricultural and food law is necessary.

Professor Hamilton also allowed me to post his remarks on the Agricultural Law blog that I write for. The Agricultural Law blog is a member of the Jurisdynamics Network of blogs and is the official blog of the American Association of Law School's Agricultural and Food Law Section.

For anyone interested in this issue, here is a link to the post, Sixteen Things to Know About the Des Moines Water Works Proposed Lawsuit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Interview with Bill Marler

Bill Marler Food Safety
"Bill Marler, one of the world's foremost authorities on food poisoning and the law is on campus at the University of Arkansas for two days. . . "  Food Poisoning and the Law.

Listen to this excellent interview with Bill Marler. The interview was conducted by Kyle Kellams of KUAF Public Radio, and it was broadcast on Ozarks At Large.  It is the first of two segments on Bill's work.

Thanks again to Bill and Denis Sterns for teaching a fantastic class for us on food safety litigation. It was wonderful to have you with us.

Bill Marler Food Safety

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bill Marler & Denis Stearns Teach in LL.M. Program - Public Reception Announcement

Marler Clark Attorneys,  Bill Marler and Denis Stearns to Teach LL.M. Class 

Reception in their honor Monday February 23

Join us Monday, February 23 for a reception in honor of our guest and visiting professor, Bill Marler and his law partner Denis Stearns.  Bill and Denis will be here teaching a condensed course for us,
Food Safety Litigation, Monday and Tuesday. 

The reception will be Monday evening from 5:00-7:00 with a presentation by Bill at 5:30. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Speaker: Amy White, Walmart Food Safety Manager, Labeling Compliance

We were pleased to host LL.M. alumna, Amy White, in our Special Topics: Food Labeling and Food Safety class. Amy is the Food Safety Manager, Labeling & Compliance for Walmart.

Amy delivered an informative presentation to the class on the new menu labeling rule for restaurants. These rules will apply to many of the deli items sold at retail stores such as Walmart, and as such, addressing compliance issues across the many Walmart stores is a significant issue. Amy has been briefing others at Walmart and working with stores to develop compliance strategies.

Some of the issues raised during Amy's presentation included serving size variations, menu display requirements, and exemptions.

Amy is also working with two of our LL.M. students this semester, Trevor Findley and Christina Rice, through our Walmart Food Labeling, Safety and Compliance Externship.  This externship allows two LL.M. students to extern two days a week at the world's largest food retailer, Walmart, at its headquarters north of Fayetteville in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Regardless of our students' various perspectives on our food system, the ability to experience Walmart from the inside is an amazing opportunity.  Our appreciation is expressed to Amy for her presentation and her work with our Externs.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Anne Hazlett Appointed Chief Counsel, Senate Ag Committee

We are delighted to announce that our LL.M. Program alumna, Anne Hazlett, has been selected as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Chairman of the Committee announced her appointment along with the appointment of other Committee hires last week.

“I am proud to add people with experience in farming, ranching and agriculture policymaking to the staff,” Roberts said. “Our team is now complete and we look forward to our first hearing at the end of the month.”

Anne is a natural selection for this important position, as her resume includes a long list of agricultural law accomplishments and years of policymaking experience. She has served as Republican Chief Counsel on the Senate Agriculture Committee since 2009. Prior to that position, Anne served as the Director of Agriculture for her home state of Indiana and served as Chief of Staff to Indiana Lt. Governor Becky Skillman.

During the development of both the 2002 and 2008 Farm bills, Anne worked as legal counsel to the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

Beyond her government service, Anne has also worked for several agricultural interest organizations, including the Indiana and California Farm Bureaus.

Anne graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communications.  She earned her law degree from the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis and her LL.M. degree in Agricultural Law from our Program.

Congratulations, Anne!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Doug O'Brien Joins White House Domestic Policy Council

We are delighted to announce that another one of our distinguished LL.M. alumni has an exciting new position.

Doug O’Brien, who has been serving as the USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development, has now joined the the White House Domestic Policy Council. There, he will coordinate the White House Rural Council and take the lead on a number of Obama administration rural development initiatives.

During his tenure at USDA, Doug served in several high level capacities, as senior advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and as Chief of Staff to then Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

When the Hagstrom Report announced the new appointment it noted Doug's work on many significant projects at USDA including "the minority farmer class action lawsuits, the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food program, the bio-economy, and targeting resources to impoverished rural areas."

Before working at USDA, Doug served as the Assistant Director of the Ohio Agriculture Department, Senior Adviser to Iowa Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, and Counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was the top Democrat on the committee.

We were pleased to have Doug as a colleague here at the Law School when he worked with us in a joint appointment with the Drake University Agricultural Law Center.  Previous positions include work for former Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, and as a clerk for the Iowa Supreme Court.

Doug is a graduate of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, the University of Iowa Law School, and the University of Arkansas LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law.

Doug grew up on a diversified hog farm in Dubuque County, Iowa and has dedicated his career to agriculture and rural policy.

Congratulations, Doug!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Legal Issues in Indigenous Food & Agriculture

This spring, we're offering a course on the Legal Issues in Indigenous Food & Agriculture. The course is taught primarily by the Director of the Law School's Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative, Professor Janie Hipp. The Initiative maintain an excellent blog of their own, and recently posted an in-depth piece on our Legal Issues course. An excerpt from that post is included below. And be sure to keep up with the IFAI by visiting their blog.

For one hour every Friday, we have the privilege of teaching six students about the particularities of food and ag law that apply only in Indian Country.

While the course is designed to give our LL.M. candidates a landscape-level view of the legal issues relevant to excellent future legal practice in this space, we've done our best to ensure that the students understand that this particular legal landscape is not always easily traversed. After a few weeks in the course-- and with the class session on land use, land tenure, and land fractionation happening today-- it's safe to say they've got that part down.

As the course's primary instructor, IFAI Director Janie Hipp is thoroughly enjoying her return to the classroom, with her teaching experience enhanced not only by the years she spent teaching in multiple undergraduate and graduate colleges here at the University, but now informed also by her seven and a half years with USDA. The students are having a great time with her.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Jason Foscolo speaks at Ohio State Food Law Conference

Our alumnus, Jason Foscolo will be presenting at this upcoming CLE. I hope he recruits some attorneys to learn more by taking our LL.M. classes!  We now have opportunities for non-degree candidates that just want to take a class or two . . .  or three. . .

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Six Months of Freedom: Documentary from Ukraine

Our thoughts continue to be with our friends, colleagues, and alumni in Ukraine.

Professor Kelley is currently in Kyiv, Ukraine teaching a short course in negotiations and meeting with colleagues there.  He sent us a link to a documentary film project that is a pro bono initiative of the Inyurpolis Law Firm (ILF), a law firm that he is affiliated with as a consultant. ILF is based in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The project is called Six Months of Freedom, and they released the first of a series of independent films that will be produced. The project's stated objective is "to create an information platform free from politics and vested interest of media moguls, as well as to develop independent media and documentary films."

This first film tells the stories of the doctors and nurses of the Kharkiv military hospital, the Kharkiv volunteers, and the injured Ukrainian soldiers.  Professor Kelley describes the documentary as providing "a look at the war that you will not see elsewhere."

We were moved by the documentary, and it is posted here for your review.  Note that it is in Ukrainian, with English subtitles. Many of the images and the human spirit depicted transcend language.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Visiting Prof Bill Marler Featured in the New Yorker Magazine

This week's New Yorker Magazine contains an important article on food safety, A Bug in the System, Why Last Night's Chicken Made You Sick.  While the article discusses salmonella bacterial contamination of chicken and our regulatory system, it is also a tribute to our visiting professor, Bill Marler. It describes his practice, his entry into the food safety litigation world, and the incredible influence that he has had.

Consider the following excerpt from the article -
Robert Brackett, who directed food safety at the F.D.A. during the George W. Bush Administration, told me that Marler has almost single-handedly transformed the role that lawsuits play in food policy: “Where people typically thought of food safety as this three-legged stool—the consumer groups, the government, and the industry—Bill sort of came in as a fourth leg and actually was able to effect changes in a way that none of the others really had.” Hagen [former head of USDA FSIS] said the cost that Marler extracts from food makers “can be a stronger incentive or disincentive than the passing of any particular regulation.” Mike Taylor [highest food safety official at the FDA] called litigation such as Marler’s “a central element of accountability.”
Bill teaches a 1-credit class for us most years, flying in and teaching for 2 full days without any compensation. This year, he is flying in with his law partner, Denis Stearns and will be here February 23-24. We are grateful for his support and all looking forward to his visit.

Vade Donaldson, Food Access Programs Manager, Washington State Farmers Market Association

We continue to receive updates on our Alumni. The good news continues, this time from LL.M. Graduate Vade Donaldson.

LL.M. Alumnus Vade Donaldson serves as the Food Access Programs Manager at the Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA). WSFMA is a state-wide membership association that supports 113 farmers markets across Washington. Each year, WSFMA holds an annual conference. This year, the conference, "Market Value: Healthy Communities & Thriving Farms", is in Olympia, WA on Feb. 6-8.

Vade reports that his work is focused on making it easier for beneficiaries of food assistance to shop at farmers markets across the state.  Much of this work is done through the "Regional Leads Program", which connects local government agencies and community nonprofits with farmers markets that serve low income communities using federal food assistance benefits.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Emily Bridges Accepts Attorney Position With Arkansas Department of Human Services

We are pleased to report that our LL.M. alumna, Emily Bridges now serves as an Attorney Specialist with the Office of Chief Counsel for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

In this new position, Emily will represent the agency in legal proceedings, conducting legal research and writing legal documents for use in litigation and providing legal assistance to the agency.  She will also be preparing the agency's legal briefs, motions, and other pleadings, analyzing and interpreting state and federal laws, advising the agency on potential legal issues and offering a legal opinion on actions the agency may take in resolving legal issues.  In addition, she may be called upon to draft proposed legislation, amendments to current legislation, and amendments to agency regulations.

We are excited for this new opportunity for Emily. We know she will represent the Department of Human Services with excellence.

Emily has her B.A. in Political Science, magna cum laude from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, her J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law, and her LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ben Thomas, Chief of Staff, USDA Farm and Foreign Ag Services

Ben Thomas LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law USDA Chief of Staff FFAS
At the end of December, 2014, LL.M. alumnus Ben Thomas joined the USDA as Chief of Staff for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.

Farm and Foreign Agricultural  Services

Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services "helps to keep America's farmers and ranchers in business as they face the uncertainties of weather and markets."  Agencies within Farm and Foreign Services include:
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA), the agency that  implements agricultural policy, administers credit and loan programs, and manages conservation, commodity, disaster and farm marketing programs through a national network of offices;
  • Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the agency that develops foreign market access for U.S. products, building new markets and improving the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace; and, 
  • Risk Management Agency (RMA), the agency that provides coverage through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, promoting national welfare by improving the economic stability of agriculture.

Before joining USDA, Ben served as Senior Advisor and Counsel to Senator John Walsh, where he was responsible for agriculture, telecommunication, and trade issues. Ben previously served as Legislative Assistant to Senator Max Baucus. As Mr. Baucus’ lead negotiator on the 2014 Farm Bill, Ben played a key role in development of the new farm programs. He also worked at USDA in various capacities at the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency.

Ben received his B.A. from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, his Juris Doctor from Washington University in St. Louis, and his LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was raised on a family farm outside of Morton, Texas, where his father and brother still farm.

We are proud of the work Ben has done in Washington and wish him well in this new and important position at USDA. Congratulations, Ben.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

LLM Alum Blake Rollins Joins Senator Boozman's Staff

We are delighted to announce that Blake Rollins, an alumnus of the University of Arkansas Law School and the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law has joined Senator John Boozman's staff in Washington, D.C.

Blake will serve as a Legislative Assistant, advising the senator on agriculture and tax policies. The Senator's press release includes this comment from Blake,

“As an Arkansan, it’s an honor to work for Senator Boozman. He is dedicated to serving Arkansas every day, and I am excited to join his team.” 

And, Senator Boozman's statement,

“Blake is a great addition to my team. His connection to Arkansas and his unique understanding of agriculture and the policies that shape our state’s number one industry will benefit agribusinesses and producers.  I appreciate Blake’s dedication, hard work, enthusiasm and commitment to improving Arkansas.”

Before joining Senator Boozman's office, Blake served as counsel at the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture. Prior to his work on the committee, Rollins held clerkship and externship positions in the public and private sector, including serving as an extern at Wal-Mart in renewable energy and emissions.

Rollins earned his B.A. from Taylor University and his J.D. and LL.M. in Agriculture and Food Law at the University of Arkansas. He is a member of the Arkansas Bar.  Congratulations, Blake!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Aaron Thompson Appointed Assistant Attorney General, Arizona Department of Agriculture

Aaron Thompson, Assistant Attorney General 
I am pleased to report that one of our alumni, Aaron Thompson, now serves as Assistant Attorney General and Counsel to the Department of Agriculture for the state of Arizona. In addition to representing the Department, he also represents the Office of Pest Management and several state boards whose purpose relate to agriculture.

Aaron's duties include providing general agency advice, assisting in rule making, reviewing contracts, interpreting statutes and rules, reviewing potential administrative enforcement actions, advising on grant programs, attending board meetings, and assisting with open meeting law compliance. His work includes representing the agencies throughout administrative hearings and during litigation.

We are delighted to have Aaron in this important position and confident he will provide excellent representation.  Congratulations, Aaron.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spring Semester Classes Offer Variety and Specialization

Each semester when we prepare the class schedule, I am amazed at the breadth of agricultural and food law as a discipline.  While some may think of it as a narrow specialty, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Spring Semester classes provide a clear example. 

Consider our Spring 20015 class offerings in the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law: 

Environmental Regulation of Agriculture 

Examination of  the major federal environmental statutes applicable to agricultural operations with attention to current cases and controversies under those laws.  It also explores the regulatory authority and enforcement practices of the EPA and other agencies.

Regulated Markets in Agriculture 

Study of the economic regulation of specific sectors of the agricultural industry focusing on perishable agricultural commodities (fruits & vegetables), dairy products, and 
the Packers & Stockyards Act.

Agricultural Perspectives

Agriculture has a rich and varied history, and today’s issues are often best understood in the context of this history.  This course examines a wide range of social, environmental, and economic issues, considering their origin and how history is reflected in today’s policies. 

Food Safety Litigation

Special condensed course taught by the leaders in food safety litigation:  
Bill Marler and Denis Stearns of Marler Clark.

Farmed Animal Welfare Law

Examination of the legal issues involved in determining welfare standards for animals raised for food. In addition to introducing federal animal welfare and humane slaughter laws, state referenda, state law standards, and so-called “ag gag” laws are introduced.  

Selected Issues in Agricultural & Food Law 

This specialized class combines current legal and policy issues in a cohesive study. 
This semester our topic is Agricultural Business Issues.

Food Justice Law & Policy

Survey of the legal and policy issues raised by the food justice movement. Topics covered include food insecurity and poverty, public health concerns such as obesity, the economics of healthy eating, food deserts, and food waste.

Agricultural Labor Law

Study of the legal, social, and economic issues that arise from the extensive use of migrant labor in U.S. agricultural operations. Topics include agricultural exemptions from labor laws, the Migrant & Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and agriculture’s reliance on undocumented workers.

Legal Issues: Indigenous Food & Agriculture 

Exploration of the complex interaction of tribal law, treaties, and federal agricultural and food laws, including property law applicable to tribal lands.

Global Food Security

Survey of the role of law and policy in affecting problems of global food security in the face of increasing population, changing diets, environmental pressures, and climate change.

Special Topics: Food Labeling  and Food Safety 

Advanced study of emerging issues in food labeling and food safety, building on what we covered in our Fall semester Food Law & Policy class. 

Agricultural Biotechnology

Study of the regulation of agricultural biotechnology, including the approval process for new technologies, the patenting of new products and technologies, and the 
restrictions associated with their use.

Intellectual Property for Agricultural & Food Products

Study of the intellectual property laws and treaties that apply to the identification of food and agricultural products.

Local/Regional Food Systems & the Law 

This course examines efforts to re-establish local and regional food systems and explores the attendant legal and policy issues.  Taught by nationally recognized agricultural and food law scholar, Neil Hamilton from Drake University Law School, this year's class will involve a look at land tenure issues, how access to farmland affects beginning farmers, and 
how land tenure affects our food system.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lauren Bernadett Joins Somach, Simmons and Dunn

We are pleased to report that LL.M. Candidate Lauren Bernadett (Class of 2014) now serves as an attorney for Somach Simmons and Dunn, a Sacramento-based law firm that specializes in environmental, agricultural, and water law issues. Lauren's work will focus on water resources, water quality, natural resources, and agricultural resources. Congratulations, Lauren!

Lauren served as Graduate Assistant to the LL.M. Program while she was with us, with work that included posts to this blog, preparing the AALA 2013 Food Law Update, and co-authoring a chapter for an ABA book on urban agriculture (with Nicole Civita and Susan Schneider). She completed an independent study under the direction of Professor Allen Olson on the water rights doctrine of equitable apportionment, writing an article on current developments in the U.S. Supreme Court.

After the Program, Lauren was selected as a California Sea Grant Fellow with the California State Lands Commission (CSLC) in Sacramento.  We are delighted to have her now turn to private practice. Her clients will be well served.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Faculty Enhance the LL.M. Ag & Food Law Curriculum

The LL.M. Program is pleased to announce three new professors, adding to our network of agricultural and food law scholars and enhancing the opportunities available to our students.  

The LL.M. Program welcomes new instructors for our expanded curriculum in agricultural and food law

University of Arkansas Assistant Professor of Law Sara Gosman will be offering a new course in Environmental Regulation of Agriculture to LL.M. Candidates this spring. The course will examine the major federal environmental statutes applicable to agricultural operations with attention to current cases and controversies under those laws. It also explores the regulatory authority and enforcement practices of the EPA and other agencies.

Professor Gosman joined the Law School in 2014 and teaches and writes in the areas of environmental law, energy law and policy, and natural resources law.  Her research explores the ways in which uncertainty about risk creates both challenges and opportunities for policy, spanning such diverse topics as oil and natural gas development, children’s health and environmental justice, and water use in the Great Lakes region. She is an expert on the law and policy of hydraulic fracturing, and she has written on chemical disclosure as a response to uncertainty about environmental effects of the technique.

Prior to joining the University of Arkansas School of Law, Professor Gosman was a lecturer at the University of Michigan Law School. She taught courses in toxics, Supreme Court environmental litigation, environmental justice, and oil and gas law. She has also practiced as a water resources attorney at the National Wildlife Federation and as an assistant attorney general in the environmental division of the Michigan Department of Attorney General.

Professor Gosman received an A.B. with high honors from Princeton University and a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she was senior editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. She also holds a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. She clerked for Chief Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California. She is currently the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Pipeline Safety Trust.

LL.M. Alumna and Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General at USDA, Amy Lowenthal will be joining the program this spring to teach a course in Agricultural Labor Law. In her role with USDA, she analyzes important legislative and regulatory issues that may impact the USDA and the Office of the Inspector General.

Prior to her current position, Ms. Lowenthal was Counsel on the Senate Committee for Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. She was one of the negotiators of the 2008 Farm Bill where her policy portfolio included civil rights, trade, and competition.  In this capacity, Ms. Lowenthal helped draft and negotiate provisions on contract protections for poultry growers,  farm bill provisions regarding the Pigford race discrimination litigation, protections for small and disadvantaged farmers, and the creation of the Office of Farmworker Coordinator.  Her expertise in agricultural labor issues includes work with California Rural Legal Assistance and a research project studying cross-border environmental policy at University of Guanajuato Law School in Mexico. Her final thesis for the LL.M. program was on the origins of OSHA's enforcement exemption for small farms.

Ms. Lowenthal has a B.A. in International Development/Geography from Clark University, an M.F.A from American Conservatory Theatre, a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, and her LL.M. in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Ms. Lowenthal will be teaching the the Agricultural Labor Law course from Maryland.  The views expressed will not necessarily represent the views of OIG, USDA, or the United States.

Were also pleased to report that Martha Noble, a former University of Arkansas Professor of Law and member of our LL.M. program will be returning to teach a course in Agricultural Biotechnology.

Ms. Noble is a recognized leader in sustainable agriculture and agricultural law.  She previously taught Environmental Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law and also taught a variety of classes in the LL.M Program. She served as a Research Professor and Staff Attorney at the National Center for Agricultural Law when it was part of the law school, teaching environmental and land use courses in the J.D. Program and in the LL.M. Program.

Ms. Noble served for a number of years as a Senior Policy Associate with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C.  The Coalition is a nationwide alliance of sustainable agriculture, rural development, and environmental organizations.

She has been a leader in the Agricultural Management Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and has served on the Board of Directors of the Clean Water Network.  She has also served on the U.S. EPA’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee in two administrations.  Ms. Noble received her law degree from the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.  She will be teaching the Agricultural Biotechnology course from California.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Janie Hipp, LL.M. Alumna & Director of Indigenous Initiative Featured

Janie Hipp

Janie Hipp featured in Chickasaw Times article

This October, the University of Arkansas Alumni Association awarded Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., L.L.M., with a Citation of Distinguished Alumni award during the Arkansas Alumni Association’s 70th Annual Alumni Awards Celebration October 24. Janie's accomplishments were featured in the December issue of the Chickasaw Times.

Friday, December 5, 2014

LL.M. Courses Now Open to a Wider Audience

Agricultural & Food Law Curriculum now available to students and professionals outside of the University of Arkansas

We are pleased to announce that the LL.M. Program is now able to offer it's unique curriculum to an expanded body of individuals seeking to further their knowledge of agricultural and food law.

Since announcing our distance education opportunities, we have received a number of calls from students and attorneys who want to enroll in one or two courses without working toward a full LL.M. degree.  In response, we revised our policies to allow a limited number of special non-degree participants in our classes.

Who can take Agricultural & Food Law classes? 

First priority for all of our classes goes to our own LL.M. degree candidates.  We have always had a few spots in the class that were open to our Arkansas J.D. students and Arkansas graduate students. Beyond this, and subject to space-availability, we can now enroll a limited number of J.D. students from other law schools, practicing attorneys and other professionals, and graduate students in related fields from other Universities. This will expand the diversity of thought and the expertise of our students, enriching all of our classes. Regular Arkansas tuition applies, and in many instances the credits can be transferred back to the student's home program or presented for state CLE or other professional training certification.

Check the sidebar to the right for a list of classes that we will offer in the spring. Interested students and attorneys should contact the Program Administrator, Sarah Hiatt at for information on applying for admission and for our complete Spring class schedule. Spring semester classes begin the week of January 12, 2015.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nicole Civita joins the Food Law Firm

The Food Law Firm announces their newest member "of counsel," Nicole Civita

Jason Foscolo
Nicole Civita
We are pleased to share the good news that LL.M. Visiting Assistant Professor and Food Recovery Project Director Nicole Civita has joined the Food Law Firm.

Nicole serves "of counsel" with our alumni Jason Foscolo and Lauren Handel.

Also serving of counsel is Michele Simon, a recent visiting lecturer to the LL.M. Program.

 Visit the Food Law Firm blog or Newsletter for more on Nicole's announcement.

Monday, November 24, 2014

UCLA Food Law & Policy Events: Alumnus Michael Roberts

The documentary Food Chains is in the news as it premiers across the country.  I was fortunate to have an opportunity to screen this thought-provoking new film when I attended the food law & policy events organized at UCLA by our alumnus, Michael Roberts.

Michael serves as the founding director of the Resnick Food Law & Policy Program at UCLA.  His program partnered with the Harvard Law School Food Lab to sponsor the conference, Transparency in the Global Food System: What Information and to What Ends?  The conference covered a full range of current and emerging topics and featured a keynote address by Dr. David A. Kessler, former Commissioner of the FDA and current professor at University of California, San Francisco Medical School.

Following the first day of the conference, we attended a private screening of Food Chains. After viewing the film, we were treated to a fascinating panel discussion of the film. Members of the panel included the Director, Sanjay Rawal. It was an inspiring evening, and the audience was fully engaged throughout.   The Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law provided us with copies of some of the photos from the event, and several are are included below.

Michael Roberts, LL.M. Alumnus and Director of the
Resnick Program for Food Law & Policy at UCLA School of Law,
Watching the Panel Discussion on Food Chains

LL.M. Director, Susan Schneider (with University of Wisconsin School of Law Professor Steph Tai)
engaged in the panel discussion of Food Chains

With Food Chains Director Sanjay Rawal and Producer Smriti Keshari

The second day of the conference featured a workshop on teaching Food Law & Policy.  Susan Schneider presented on the intersection of environmental law and food law & policy.  It was delightful to meet (in person) a number of the law professors who participate in the food law professors listserv that Professor Schneider developed and maintains.

Our congratulations to Michael for organizing such a successful event. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Butch Blazer from USDA Visits with LL.M. Candidates

Last Friday, we were honored to host USDA Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer for an informal discussion with the LL.M. class. He spoke about his work at the USDA, his passion for the land and our natural resources, and the need for future leaders, such as our students in the LL.M. Program to take up the challenge. It was an inspiring session, and we thank Janie Hipp, Director of the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative and a longtime friend to Butch, for arranging the visit.

Butch Blazer USDA Natural Resources and the Environment
Arthur "Butch" Blazer serves as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

In 2003, Governor Bill Richardson appointed Butch as "State Forester" of New Mexico, the first Native American to hold that position. During his tenure as State Forester, Butch was also named as Chair of the Council of Western State Foresters and Co-Chair for the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Butch has been intimately involved in Tribal issues throughout his life.

Prior to his service as State Forester, he served 27 years in the department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Range Management Specialist, Natural Resources Manager, and Agency Superintendent. Blazer is the former owner of Blazer Conservation Connections, a natural resources based consulting company that specialized in connecting clients with the resources needed to enhance and protect the environment. He is also a co-founder of the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society, and has served on their Board of Directors and as the organization's National President. In 1998 Butch was elected, and served two consecutive terms, to the Mescalero Apache Tribal Council. An avid outdoors man when he can get to it, Blazer enjoys hunting, skiing and just "hiding-out" in the vast wilderness of his beautiful Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Professor Sam Halabi visits the LL.M. Program

Sam Halabi, Associate Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law graciously agreed to visit our Food Law & Policy course today to introduce the class to the international food standards body, Codex, and present his latest article on the subject. An excerpt from Professor Halabi's bio is included below. His full bio is available on the University of Tulsa College of Law website. Our thanks to Professor Halabi.

Professor Halabi  is a scholar of national and global health law with a specialization in health services, pharmaceutical, and tobacco business organizations. Between 2008 and 2010, he served as a Fellow of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University researching the formation and implementation of international legal instruments regulating health-related policies of governments and businesses. In 2008, he advised the Presidential Health Care Policy Working Group on current and proposed approaches to international food and drug inspections. In 2010, Professor Halabi addressed a special committee of the United Nations on the relationship between decentralized health care systems and social inclusion as well as the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women on Egypt's compliance with the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2014, he served as Director of the O’Neill Institute’s Summer Program on Emerging Issues in Food and Drug Law. His recent policy work focuses on identifying and minimizing legal barriers to global vaccine availability. He serves as an adviser to the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, vice-chair of the Food and Drug Law Journal editorial board as well as a referee for the journals Global Public Health and Health and Human Rights. His work is published or forthcoming in the American Journal of Law and Medicine, the Harvard International Law Journal, the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, the Michigan Journal of International Law, and the Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business, among others.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two New Native Food & Ag Publications Released

This is a reposting from the unofficial blog of the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. The Initiative supports tribal governments and businesses in the food and agriculture sector through research, tech assistance, and special programs.
IFAI and First Nations Development Institute have jointly released two new publications that will prove valuable for Native American farmers, ranchers and food processors, as well as tribal policymakers. The reports, generously underwritten by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation through funding to First Nations, are: "Why a Model Food and Agriculture Code is Needed in Indian Country" by Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw), Director of IFAI, and "Maneuvering Challenges: An Overview of Food Safety for Tribal Producers" by Vena A-dae Romero, J.D., L.L.M. (Cochiti/Kiowa), a graduate of the LL.M. (Master of Laws) program in Agriculture and Food Law at the University of Arkansas, and the first Native lawyer graduate of the program since the launch of IFAI.

The publications are free and available for download from First Nations’ Knowledge Center.  (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

LL.M. Alumni develop Agricultural & Food Law Program

LLM Alumni Take Lead in Developing New Ag and Food Law Program in Maryland

We are pleased to report on the work of our LL.M. alumni in developing the excellent new agricultural and food law programs in Maryland. Since January of 2013, alumni Paul Goeringer has been a partner on the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI). Paul has taken the lead on developing an Extension outreach program focused on the legal issues important to Maryland agriculture. Paul was recently joined on the Extension side by another LL.M. alum, Ashley Newhall.

ALEI was born out of the aftermath of a lawsuit involving the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and a Maryland poultry farmer. Three state institutions, University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, joined forces to identify the diverse legal needs of Maryland’s agriculture community. The initiative is working to fill the ag law void in the state of Maryland by publishing publications and research focused on land leasing, agricultural labor, estate planning, and the state’s unique right-to-farm law. ALEI also operates an Infoline where producers can call in, ask questions, and be directed to legal resources or an attorney if necessary.  

Paul brought Ashley on board last summer, and their team focuses on developing outreach tools that help the state’s agricultural community understand an ever-changing set of laws and regulations. “We do a little bit of everything from developing traditional Extension publications, speaking at a host of Extension and ag producer meetings, and running a blog focused developing and current legal issues in agriculture,” said Paul, “we also work on developing programs and materials to aid attorneys working on ag issues.” 

Since its creation, ALEI has helped to spur the formation of an agriculture law section of the Maryland State Bar and hosted the first AALA regional conference. “We had a really great regional conference,” said Ashley, “some of the major issues such as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and the TMDL updates, drones flying over agriculture land, and the Farm Bill were all discussed in great detail...I couldn’t be more excited to be working on the initiative here in Maryland helping producers.”

To learn more about ALEI or just see what Ashley and Paul are working on or speaking at, check out the ALEI homepage at If you are curious about current legal issues impacting Maryland agriculture check out their blog at

We wish Ashley and Paul continued success as they continue to work to build this distinctive agricultural and food law program serving the state of Maryland.